The Queen’s Speech Vs. Colonial Dialects.

If you are like me, you live in an apartment.. or maybe a flat? Do you have roommates, or flatmates? That all depends – on whether you speak English, or American. On both sides of the pond, we take our language very seriously. We Americans think the Brits don’t speak English, the Queen’s subjects know otherwise. So who is correct? Why, the customer of course…

As we have continued to expand into international advertising in multiple languages for our clients, I have learned an important lesson… NEVER ASSUME.

Here’s a look at the top five traffic generating English speaking countries.

The total goal count seems like about what you would expect. America has the largest population with internet access, but India has the largest total population (with internet use on the rise).

US: 71,198

India:  24,325

UK: 16,949

Canada: 13,757

Australia: 11,901

However, let’s assume only goal 3 has any value.

US: 169

India: 0

UK: 24

Canada: 47

Australia: 80

Again, the US is the most valuable market, but what’s interesting is that Australia is the second most valuable market. It takes six times as many visits in the US to make twice as much revenue. With PPC advertising, that traffic can get expensive. This is another reason why first, you need to have a conversion strategy in place, and know the value of those conversions. Spend your PPC dollars in the most valuable marketplace, and use the marketing data you gain to improve overall revenue. Since keyword data from Google organic visits is now an unknown, use your AdWords budget to help do your keyword research.

Americans, Canadians, Australians, and even the English themselves, seem to be very forgiving of our colonial misrepresentations of the Queen’s English. The term download for example, seems to be universally accepted as an English term. Is this an American term? If the technological PC/internet revolution in the English speaking world had begun in Wales instead of California, would we English speakers universally use the same term to describe such an action?  We Americans have the advantage in our shared language, when it comes to defining the lexicon associated with technology. Expanding your reach internationally through PPC advertising is easy (in comparison), if only using the English language.

International audiences accept the American dialect, due to the saturation of our dialect on the web, but some countries more so than others. Canadians are our neighbors, the Canadian audience is very accepting of doing business with their neighbors, and our dialects are not much different. Australians are not only accepting of our accent, but seem to trust the American market, more so than any other English speaking country. This is assuming direct return, not long term engagement. Over time, as the per capita buying buying power of Indian consumers improves, the revenue will as well. Even with no short term revenue being generated, the size of the audience should not be completely ignored. European nations however, seem to not be as trusting of the American marketplace. Could it be that we colonials are just speaking a different language?

Not speaking Spanish myself, I rely on the search terms report, and keyword data (using Google Translate) to try and gain a better understanding of what language the target market is speaking. I have found the subtle differences in the lexicon between countries to be far more profound  with Spanish, than the English language.

According to Google translate, descargar is the Spanish translation of download. In Mexico this does seem to be the case, it is the most common search term modifier used, with the highest CTR. However, this is not the case in Spain. Although descargar generates the most impressions, bajar is the translation of download which has the highest CTR.

Download is a universal term for the English language ads, and keywords, that dramatically increases click through and conversion rates for the example English campaign. However, that term does not directly translate to Spanish. There is a difference between the Queen’s Spanish, and the colonial dialects. As you try and expand your reach to new countries, and new languages, pay attention to what your customers are telling you. American may translate across the English language, but Spanish varies greatly by country. Try to establish which countries generate the most profit, then focus your website and SEO efforts on using the particular dialect the most profitable users find the most engaging.

It takes time to build a new audience in a new language, but with all the tools at your disposal, it’s easier now than ever before. Yes, you still have to have someone who speaks the language answer the phones, but not necessarily to write ad copy, or manage keywords. With click-to-call only, you don’t even need translated website content, if phone calls generate the majority of your conversions. Consider all the tools at your disposal, the world is your oyster…:)